I got back from the latest 6 day combined class late on Thursday night. I have a few points, in no particular order, that will help future students:
1) If you do the combined class, including the TC3/RMP pre-day, it is a 6 day class. There will be some future changes to classes anyway ( to be announced) , where CRCD is going to become 3 days, so the combined CRCD/Combat Patrol class will be 6 days, not 5. The intent of running this combined class was to allow students to travel long distances and get the benefit, reducing overall travel costs. You need to pace yourself and look after yourself on this class. Stay hydrated. I recommend staying in the Koolwink Motel. If you are camping, don’t camp light as per a patrol base (you will do this on one night on Combat Patrol class anyway) – instead, camp like you mean it, in comfort, and leave the roughing it part to the Patrol Base. I say this because I want the emphasis to be on learning, and I want you as fresh and rested as you can get overnight.
2) The Night Observation Devices Firing (NODF) class, even though I say so myself, is simply excellent. The cadre is proud to bring this training to you. It does however make for a long day that first day. Although we teach you how to rig and use your gear, it would behoove you to read the manual and have the gear fitted to your helmet/rifle prior to the class. This will save time and allow us to move rapidly into the use and employment of the gear.
3) The classes are designed to place you into a simulated combat environment and give you some battle inoculation. This is done safely at a crawl, walk, run pace. Safety is paramount. However, you will be placed under stress in a controlled manner. By the end of CRCD you will be conducting running gun battles breaking contact with the enemy down the valley. The stress is not constant – you will be prepared, briefed and walked through the drill, then you will be immersed, followed by a debrief and lessons learned. Because we care about you, you will be told exactly where you are going wrong and how you need to improve. There is plenty of time to rest. This is not however a theme park training school where egos are massaged. It is deadly serious. This is why I hammer safety while stating that this is not a class where you should bring ego. It is not about either the cadre or the student’s ego – it is about knowledge transfer and realistic battle inoculation training.
4) An important point on the ego thing is this: You will be placed under stress. This will increase as you get onto the patrol class. You will also receive bollockings if you mess up, particularly if it involves safety. The cadre and myself use a variety of techniques, and I am often ‘the bad guy’ when it is required. I want to be clear about this: we are not being drill sergeants. Most of the class is run in a quiet manner of sensible instruction. Students are encouraged, coddled, looked after, corrected gently and sometimes harshly (mainly safety related). Whatever it takes, adapted to the personality of the student. We are focused on ‘the why’ of the drills, and treating you like adults. However, when you are deliberately being put under stress, you will be shouted at, cussed at and similar. You may even be physically moved for safety reasons. This is why you should not bring the ego. Just get on with it, make it work, and learn.
5) Related to point 4 is this: I have to exert a lot of leadership and instructor-fu to get some students through the class. In particular the 6 day class. On this most recent class, a good example is that by the final raid, we had 3 guys physically suffering: a guy with a hurt ankle and another suffering from arthritic legs. The third gentleman was 60 years old and was physically done. This meant that these guys were the support by fire group for the raid, and we took them in on the Ranger, so they didn’t have to walk. My point – we will do all we can to make it work for you. It is an act of care, to get you this tactical knowledge and training that you need. The flip side to this is that I have to try various methods at various times to keep the class together, particularly as people get tired by the last day of the 6 day class, after little sleep the night before. Sometimes it is quiet encouragement, sometimes it is a good bollocking. You won’t know how much of it is play acting. I look at it like I have to occasionally beat my chest, maybe do the angry chef thing of smashing a few plates, throw a tantrum, when it is merited. Very rarely I am genuinely irritated with you. Mostly, it is an act, inspired by a love and desire to make you better. This ties in with the addition of stress to various tactical scenarios – students please don’t give it away, but you know what happens on the morning after the patrol base, on the last day, and the move of the casualty up to the rally point! The video I am going to post below will be familiar to you after the patrol class!
6) There will be moments of high stress simulated combat, with some verbal encouragement, and then we will all smile and laugh and go back down for a debrief. Please be ready and mentally prepared for this. Ego and becoming offended does not work. I felt the need to write this because there was an incident on this past 6 day class when an otherwise capable student became offended. Ego was the culprit. We had a moment on the last day of the class class where the ambush was not going to work, and I had to start over. Reboot some of the students. They were tired, unfocused, and it was slipping. I tried the angry chef /drill instructor approach to it, and he took it personally (offended by some of my choice words, I think. Oops, potty mouth!) Wrong, and his actions didn’t help me get the group back on track, although we did manage it and we ran a successful ambush. In contrast, the culminating raid later that day was excellent. I don’t write this to start a discussion about that incident, because I don’t want that. It is done and I probably won’t approve comments about that specifically. I don’t want a flame war. I was simply disappointed with him. I write it to make people aware of what goes on and how to be mentally prepared for it.
7) Related to the above ego issue is that of PT. You really need to work on your PT. You will have read the above and noted that I made allowances to get people through the class. True, but that’s not the way to approach it. Get in as best shape as possible both for class and life, and it will help you stay alert and learn.
8) If you wish to take a slower ramping learning curve to this experience and training, you should consider attending the Combat Rifle Manipulation Class. One thing that is lacking, and that falls into the “you don’t know what you don’t know” category, is student’s weapon manipulation skills. This is particularly relevant ‘out in the wild’ under stress in the woods on the tactical classes. Much time can be wasted with your head in your weapon, when one of our pre-classes such as CRM or RMP would help greatly.
See the below video for a bit of real combat stress. The simulated version will be familiar to Patrol Class students! Watch from 22:15 (or about 27:30 if you don’t want the full scenario) till about 42 minutes: